Welfare State

Serpentine South Gallery 19–28 May 1973 Free

Welfare State, a fine arts performance group, had been due to perform Beauty and the Beast at the Serpentine Gallery in 1973 but had to change their plans.

Welfare State (later renamed Welfare State International) was a fine arts performance group specialising in rediscovering and re-creating myths and archetypes through pantomime, street plays, installations, and mixed-media projects. The collective was originally going to perform Beauty and the Beast at the Serpentine Gallery in May 1973. However, at short notice the Department of the Environment denied permission for the Arts Council of Great Britain to show the performance pieces or moving sculpture in the gardens of the Serpentine Gallery – it was their policy at the time not to allow tents to be erected in the park.

Welfare State had intended to erect a big top to contain their surreal garden ‘Shangri-la Paradise’ as a lyrical counterpart to the more disturbing labyrinth to be created within the gallery itself. Instead of compromising their vision and presenting only half an exhibition, Welfare State instead presented Beauty and the Beast in Heasandford Quarry, Burnley, Lancashire.

In place of the planned show, Welfare State provided photographic documentation by Roger Perry of what the Serpentine visitors had missed.

The show was directed by Welfare State co-founder and Artistic Director John Fox.


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